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Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

According to a recent press release: “Austrian rock and metal empire Napalm Records is thrilled to announce their exciting new partnership with English extreme metal titans CRADLE OF FILTH, who have just signed a worldwide contract with the label! Positioned firmly at the top of the extreme black metal genre, CRADLE OF FILTH – led and revolutionized by iconic frontman Dani Filth – reign supreme as one of the most revered, formative and notorious names in the scene, and are undeniably responsible for breaking ground for many of today’s top metal artists with their trademark mixture of grim blackened heaviness, macabre theatricality and scintillating gothic style. The rule of Filth began in 1991, followed by the unleashing of 1994’s The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh – humble beginnings that expanded into cinematic classics like Cruelty And The Beast and Midian. The band’s unyielding international touring schedule has garnered them a massive following both in the cult underground and at the top of the mainstream, defying trends while staying true to their roots. More recent offerings such as 2015’s Hammer Of The Witches and 2017’s Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness Of Decay continued to bolster the unremitting legacy of Filth, until the band, along with the rest of the universe, was abruptly halted by the global pandemic in 2020. But, as is evident by the staggering response from their devoted legion of followers, that time was put to good use, spurring the emergence of the band’s latest, breathtakingly heavy offering, 2021’s Existence Is Futile. The album debuted at #20 on the Billboard 200 with Hard Rock Genre, on the Hard Music Albums charts at #4 in the US and #5 in Canada, #9 on the German Album charts, #3 and #5 on the UK Rock & Metal Albums chart and UK Independent Albums chart respectively, #4 on the Finnish Albums chart and many more, proving that CRADLE OF FILTH continue to own the dark.” We get namesake Dani Filth on the phone to discuss new music, the touring, NOT throwing children over cliffs, and much more…

Toddstar: Dani, thank you so much for taking time out. It’s not every day I get to speak to the Headmaster of Cradle of Filth.

Dani: You’re welcome.

Toddstar: There’s a lot going on in the world of Cradle of Filth right now. You’ve got a headline tour you’re out on right now, you just came off the road supporting Danzig, and amid the tours, the band switched labels and went over to Napalm Records. Let’s start with, how did the dates with Danzig go? How did the mix of their crowd and the Cradle of Filth fans go over?

Dani: It was phenomenal. We haven’t supported a band… I can’t remember the last time we actually supported a band other than on festivals. It was very new for us, and it was invigorating really, because obviously it was the shorter set playing 50 minutes a night, trying to win over a crowd. There was a big crossover of fans of both Cradle and Danzig, but also a whole bunch of new people, which like I say, was invigorating because we obviously wouldn’t have the chance to play for those sorts of people unless it was a festival. And I think the last festival we did in America was in 2003, which was headlining The B Stage in American Ozzfest. So, all in all, they were fantastic shows. Unfortunately, there were only ten of them and everybody was saying at the end, we were talking to Danzig crew and everybody else involved with it, they were saying, “Yeah, it just feels like we’re going to take a hiatus and then there’ll be another run of shows on the east coast or whatever.” They were fantastic. Really well attended. All four bands were incredible, great performances. Danzig were on fire. Just really a great time. The venues were great. Everybody involved the tour, just lovely. We had an amazing time and that’s not been derogatory toward our own headline shows because we literally left straight away and came on them with two new members and 80% new American crew. It’s all been a bit of a test or a leap of faith for us. We found salvation through it. It’s a good time to be tour in America, to be honest… COVID’s still rife, but we’re coming out of the bulk of the pandemic, and life seems to be getting back to some normality. The weather’s great, we’re playing some great cities and great venues. So all-in-all, very good, very positive.

Toddstar: That’s awesome. You mentioned two new members. You now have Donny on guitars and Zoe on keyboard. How was the dry run with these two on these first shows? Do they seem to gel and fit the mood and the atmosphere of a Cradle show?

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Dani: Well, absolutely. We spent three days prior to the Danzig shows rehearsing in Los Angeles. It was very evident by the end of day one that they were the perfect fit for the job. Obviously, they weren’t just brought in willy nilly without any sort of prior investigation or the credentials or talent spotting. Obviously, there was a level of uncertainty whether you’re going to get on with the people, whether they’re right for the job, whether they can handle it, et cetera, et cetera, roadworthy, trustworthy. They’ve slotted in perfectly and great fun to be around, great musicians, and it just feels like a tight-knit family almost instantaneously. We spend time together, go out for dinner, mall shopping on days off. In fact, that’s exactly what we got planned for pretty much an hour’s time. It works really well. I was on holiday shortly before coming on tour, trying to just relax, have a first holiday for two years in Thailand. I said to my girlfriend, “Oh my God, it’s suddenly dawned on me that we’ve got a tour in two weeks time, and we’ve got pretty much 80% new crew, two new members, and we’re supporting Danzig.” I hadn’t really thought about it up until this moment because I’d been trying to chill out. But now it seems like, “Wow, I’m now looking at the enormity of the situation.” And was a little bit fearful, to be honest. But think my fears were allayed that first day and everything’s going well.

Toddstar: It probably gave you that sensation of being back in 1991 or 1992, when you were starting off fresh.

Dani: Well, kind of. We’ve had a few lineup changes along the way. But the thing is, people leave for various reasons, family commitments, it’s a lot of work. I think COVID showed the two members that left that they weren’t too keen on being in the band and going out on the road quite so brutally as Cradle do. Like you said, there’s a lot going on all the time with the band. Obviously moving to Napalm, we’ve got plans for the next record, a live record. We’ve got other things which I can’t really talk about right now, in preparation. Like big things, non-band related, but are part of the Cradle of Filth universe, affiliations, and such forth. It’s a very exciting time, it always is, really. I just think some people just find that situation a little overbearing and so people come and go. I guess it’s much like working at a newspaper or metal magazine or radio station or whatever. We try and retain a family element to everything, and a good working ethic and crew and band mingle and have fun, and that’s the best way to play it.

Toddstar: A few months ago you dropped Existence Is Futile. The sound stayed true to Cradles history, as you typically do, even though the mood or the ambiance of each album might shift slightly, you’ve always stayed true to your sound. It felt a little more aggressive to me. How much of that was built out of the pandemic, you hadn’t been on the road, you hadn’t been able to gather, and you hadn’t been able to do anything, really.

Dani: The thing was, that was written before the COVID thing struck. We’d done three years of touring, elongated by the fact that since Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay, we also re-released Cruelty & The Beast fully remixed from the original tapes. That elongated the normal two years on the road. We were on the road for three years and the year prior to the pandemic hitting, which was 2019, was the busiest year we’d ever seen. We were in America, we did a full South American tour, we did Europe twice, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, we were everywhere. We’d written a record, we were in a month of finishing that whole world tour, we were in the studio, and fortunately our Czech drummer had recorded the drums in England prior to the lockdowns. It left me in a situation with me and guide guitars, just working on the record with the producer five hours a day, working around lockdowns and curfews and what have you. It was a really good time because we were afforded the fact that a record company or management company weren’t breathing down our necks about time issues because no-one in the world knew when restrictions were going to be lifted or when COVID was going to be less of a problem. It afforded us a great deal of time in the studio, broken up as it was, but the weather was great, we were very isolated, there was nobody working there, we weren’t bothered by anybody else, there was no distractions. Admittedly, it took a while for the rest of the musicians to come in one-by-one and contribute to the record, but we’d worked very hard on the demos, so it wasn’t too problematic. I guess it did fuel the subject matter but to be fair, in this day and age it’s just one apocalypse after the other. I wouldn’t say it was based on one thing or the other, it was just that COVID seems to be disintegrating or get less of a problem and suddenly we have the Ukrainian situation, food shortages, blah, blah, blah. It’s an ongoing thing, climate change, et cetera, et cetera. I think the album is on the lyricism and the subject matter, is a byproduct of more than just COVID.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Toddstar: Gotcha. I really enjoy the album. There is “Crawling King Chaos,” which was a single and video and was very well received. I go to some of the deeper stuff and really dig “Dying of the Embers” and “Discourse Between a Man and His Soul.” Those are two of the ones that stand out to me. When you go through the material, what songs of these do you see being part of that Cradle of Filth legacy that when you’re ready to hang it up, you’ll still want to play that specific track or two in that final set?

Dani: Well, that’s difficult because it’s like choosing amongst your children, which one you throw off a cliff. [laughs] Great analogy. I don’t mean to throw any children off a cliff though, I just want to say that. Disclaimer. Well, at the present we’re playing four songs from the record, so I presume it would be one of those. I’d say the video songs are very important because obviously they’re the ones that go out and meet a wider audience than those that are… Then the fans that are dragged into and get immersed into the whole album. The videos are like windows into the soul of the records. I would say it was those. We’re still playing the likes of “Nymphetamine,” “Her Ghost In the Fog,” et cetera, et cetera, songs that were big videos. And obviously tracks are chosen for videos for a multitude of reasons, but mostly for the dynamics and how they’re going to appeal to a certain amount people. “Crawling King Chaos” was chosen because it was just a brutal track and it was a perfect introduction to the nature of the record, rather than coming across with a very radio friendly song from the off.

Toddstar: We’ve talked about your headline dates coming up that you’ve already embarked on, there’s an exciting one coming up in my world and that’s June 3rd. The band is going to land once again, I think for your second appearance, at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan.

Dani: Oh yes. Yeah, of course.

Toddstar: Cradle played there about a year before COVID.  I am curious, what is it about Cradle of Filth and we’ll call it a smaller venue because it’s not an arena. It’s not even a large house, I’ve seen you at larger venues… what is it about a place like The Machine Shop either specifically or just a room that size, it seems really cater to Cradle of Filth sonically, visually, and just that fan connection?

Dani: I think it’s important because it’s a hub, isn’t it? We are going through America, we’re on a schedule, it’s a stop along the way that’s going to grab people from the vicinity that are fans of the band. So that’s, to be blunt, the main focal point. It’s a great little venue, it’s very inhouse, it’s very well respected. I’ve seen several Flint Machine Shop t-shirts on this very run from people who worked there. Our merch girl had one on not so long ago. One of the Danzig crew was sporting one in Texas. It’s obviously a very well-respected venue and you can see that when you go in, because obviously it’s emblazoned with loads of pictures of people that have played there. It’s smaller than the average show you’d play, but I think it’s what you would call intimate and it’s infamous as well. It’s kind of, “Have you played that place?” “No.” “Well, we should.” It’s a cool place, it’s got cool people that run it, very much into music. The people that turn up are going to be very much into the music. It’s a very atmospheric venue, there’s several places like that in and around America and indeed Europe, that the band and other bands keep coming back to.

Toddstar: I’m looking forward to that show just for that more intimate feel. When you hit the stage – you’ve been doing this a long time Dani – do you ever get that nervousness you might have had back in the day or is this just, this is your kingdom and you’re going to rule tonight and that’s how it is?

Dani: The only time I get nervous, I’m a bit nervous today because I’ve got a problem with my ears. We’ve been doing a lot of gigs at high altitudes and my ears just haven’t really popped. And last night just had a few troubles because I just couldn’t hear, my ear monitors just seemed to be… I wouldn’t say, problematic. It was just, when your ears shut down, certain frequencies get cut out and I rely on my ear monitors and a great monitor engineer so that I can hit all the very highs, the very lows and everything in between. It’s a very delicate situation, a very delicate setup. Our monitor engineer is out of this world, the best of the best. So subsequently when you get problems on the road, it’s not anything vocal wise, it’s just other things around the periphery. Obviously, the hearing’s very important to that. I’m sitting in my hotel room and I still can’t unpop my ears from the altitude and we’re in Boise now. We’re more towards sea level than we were in Salt Lake City or Colorado, for example. At one point we’re at 15,000 feet above sea level, I was on stage and wondering “My God, how come I’m so out of breath?” And I thought, “Oh yeah, of course, the oxygen’s a bit thinner here.” It’s not a massive problem, but when you’re in a band, these are all the things you consider, you know? It’s production, it’s looking after your health, et cetera, et cetera.

Toddstar: Especially with your in-ears because you run the gamut vocally from guttural to piercing. For you to lose some of those frequencies, I would imagine it plays hell with making sure you’re on that note.

Dani: Yeah. You kind of just play it literally by ear. [we both laugh] You know where you’re supposed to be, but you just don’t want to damage yourself by overdoing it, the frequencies are kind of knocked out by the fact that your hearing is all over the place and your ears haven’t popped, et cetera, et cetera. It’s a very weird thing that people don’t really consider on the road. But it is something, especially if you’re going up and down and up and you’re traversing the country. The other day, which was really strange, we went from 96* to 98*. That was the temperature we played on the last Danzig show in Austin. Went from that and then we had a day off and we drove through a snowstorm, and I was in the back of the bus, and I had the vent open. I had the air on and the vent open so I could get some fresh air in there and really, really humid, covers off, to waking up in the middle of the night and been able to see my breath and snow coming through the skylight, it was very surreal.

Toddstar: I can imagine. Dani, I know you’re busy and I know you’ve got some shopping to do so in addition to really being excited about the Machine Shop show and what you have planned, as you said, so many things that you can’t unleash on us yet. One last question, if you could go back and talk to a young Dani Filth in 1991 or 1992 when you were starting this rock and roll ride, what piece of advice would you give yourself looking back?

Dani: Oh, I don’t know. Sometimes I do quite… well, actually when I say sometimes, quite regularly, I stop and imagine myself as a younger person starting the band, looking through my eyes and looking at what I’ve achieved, what we are trying to achieve, the situation we’re in, what’s going on, just thinking how lucky or how much hard work has gone through to get to this stage. I’m very appreciative of that fact and it grounds you as well because you think, “Right, maybe things aren’t going the way I’m planning this week or this month or whatever.” But imagine being this scenario, seeing it as 18-year-old you, trying to get this band off the ground, you’d be like, “Oh my God, this is the best thing ever.” If you look through the world with those eyes, with a child’s eyes, things become simpler and more exciting, et cetera, et cetera. You forget about the weight of the world that crushes everybody’s spirits from time-to-time. Perseverance, there’s always things that get in the way, you always build things up and you think, “Yeah, this is it. This is going to happen.” When we wrote The Gospel of Filth, there was so many setbacks with that. With Cradle of Fear the movie, so many setbacks with that. We missed so many release dates because we were just amateurs making a movie. Had we had proper financial backing and a… well, we got big distribution, but it was years later. Things would’ve been different, and you’ve just got to take the knock back. It’s like Rocky saying, you’ve got to take the punches and keep moving forward. That’s the advice I would give because it’s so easy to get disheartened and even more so now I feel, because you are seeing such a facade of people on social media, most people don’t post bad things on social media. They only post the great things that happen to them. You’re seeing a perfect vision of everybody, and you always see this is happening to someone else, or this is happening to this band, and you just have to ground yourself and realize the world is a simpler place than the confusion that gets put in front of you every day. In fact, life was simpler back then, not just because you were younger, there were less bands. It was harder because there were less bands, you were trying to fight to get to a certain level in your scene or perhaps creating your own scene as we kind of did. I would just say perseverance and reigning it in as well. When you are young, the world’s your oyster and you’re going on tour for the first time. It’s like, “Wow, I can do what I want.” You’ve got to be careful about what you do. Think about what you do, enjoy yourself though. That’s the main thing. It’s pointless if it just becomes a chore, as soon as it becomes a massive chore. I know that’s what work is supposed to be, but there are no rules about life. The only rules are the ones that we self-impose upon ourselves en masse. Nobody says it has to be 9 to 5, nobody says you have to work eight hours a day. In fact, being in a band, you’re working 24 hours a day most of the time with your own boss. That applies to a lot of people as well, take it or leave it. That’s my advice.

Photo credit: Todd Jolicoeur – Toddstar Photo

Toddstar: I agree, Dani. Again, as I said at the top of the interview, I appreciate the time out. I’ve been a fan for a long time and finally be able to sit down and share some moments and some words with you.

Dani: My pleasure.

Toddstar: I certainly hope when you’re at The Machine Shop, I’ll be floating around, that I’ll be able to say hello and thank you in person.

Dani: By all means.

Toddstar: Well again, Dani, thank you so much for the time. We wish you great shows, well travels and we’ll see you June 3rd at The Machine Shop.

Dani: Absolutely. Thank you very much. Take care.







Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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